Thursday, 1 June 2017

Inglorious' 'Inglorious II' - Album Review

Inglorious burst onto the scene last year with their self-titled debut album (which I reviewed here), and have been making a name for themselves ever since. After a spate of young new British hard rock and metal bands bursting onto the scene towards the end of the 2000s (Heaven's Basement, Glamour of the Kill, Voodoo Six etc.) the British rock scene experienced somewhat of a dearth, and it did not seem like British musicians were keen on the idea of making good old-fashioned hard rock. Thankfully, this has started to change again over the past couple of years and Inglorious are one of the new bands out there paying tribute to the golden age of British hard rock and putting their own twist on the much-loved genre. As much as I enjoyed the band's first album I do feel they have been over-hyped somewhat, and this is probably down to the aforementioned lack of new British hard rock bands in recent years. That is not meant to be a slight on the band, as their debut album is a honest and well-written collection of modern hard rock songs, it is more a comment on the state of the young British rock scene at the time and the willingness that journalists and fans have to call everything that they enjoy a 'classic'. If I was to mark Inglorious out of ten (which I do not do during my reviews as a rule as the above willingness to overstate the brilliance of things means that any score of less than eight is usually seen as a disappointment) I would award it somewhere between six and seven - i.e. an enjoyable album which is better than your average release. Since the release of Inglorious, the band have been working tirelessly to promote it and themselves. Countless support slots, festival appearances, and even a respectable amount of headlines shows filled the band's 2016 calendar and it is safe to say that they have the old-school work ethic to match their old-school sound! True to that form, the band's second album was released a mere fifteen months after their debut - a blink of an eye by today's standards. The imaginatively titled Inglorious II features the same line-up of the band that recorded their the debut album, but the contributions of lead guitarist Andreas Eriksson have greatly increased. He joined the band a couple of weeks before the recording of Inglorious commenced so none of his songwriting was featured on the album, but that has changed here and he has contributed to ten of the twelve songs that make up Inglorious II. His contributions have lead to a slightly heavier overall sound, with the bluesy elements of the first album taking somewhat of a backseat at times. While this may disappoint some fans, the variety this creates makes Inglorious II a more diverse listen than the band's debut. Despite leaving the band last year, rhythm guitarist Wil Taylor still completed the album's recording sessions, but has since been replaced by Drew Lowe who was actually one of the band's founding members back in 2014. Tony Draper, who also engineered and mastered the album, provides all the keyboards and piano on a session basis.

After a subtle, mellow guitar intro, the album gets underway in style with I Don't Need Your Loving, a heavy blues rock track that certainly channels early Whitesnake with a muscular riff and a raw, impassioned vocal performance from frontman Nathan James. He has received a lot of praise over the past year or so for his voice, and this song displays why this is the case, with a display that shows him using both his lower and higher registers. A short, but sweet, solo from Eriksson adds some extra melody towards the song's end, but this is a song more about the riffs and the vocals, both of which marry up perfectly during the Hammond-drenched chorus. Taking the Blame really comes out of the blocks after the more precise mid-pace of the opening number, and is driven by some in-your-face drumming from Phil Beaver. Whitesnake comparisons can also be drawn to bassist Colin Parkinson's playing. He uses the similar kind of melodic bass runs that Neil Murray did during Whitesnake's heyday, and this is obvious here in a song which he co-wrote. Lots of Inglorious' songs are more mid-paced affairs, so it great when they really cut loose and up the tempo as they do here. Tell me Why brings the bluesy elements back to the album with a lone-guitar and vocal intro which has a great murky fee, before the main riff kicks in and the song takes off with a great heartbeat-esque rhythm that is surprisingly addictive. James' bluesy vocals really fit in with the overall feel of the song, and Eriksson's many little guitar flourishes really help to keep things interesting. The chorus is a strong one, with some gospel-esque backing vocals which really help to add depth. Read all About It has a slightly strange sounding main riff, with an discordant feel and little pseudo prog flourishes which are sure to take the listener by surprise. The main body of the song is another mid-paced rock, albeit with a heavier overall feel, but the main riff (which also forms the main chorus theme) is quite different from what we have come to expect from Inglorious. I like it however as it shows the band are willing to try something new to keep from stagnating. Change is Coming is a proper blues song, and opens with slow drumming and a mournful croon from James. That is not to say that the song does not rock, as it does with lashings of Hammond organ and a groovy blues riff that kicks in when the intro is done. This bluesy feel really suits the band perfectly, and I feel that this is one of the better songs on the album due to that fact. Unsurprisingly, Eriksson really gets a chance to cut loose here with a lengthier guitar solo than usual, which has the same tortured bluesy feel as James' excellent vocal performance. Making me Pay is a sparser song, built around a slightly clunky riff that is not the best the band have come up with, but James' vocal performance is enough to keep the song interesting. He is clearly a student of the blues, and that shows here with a diverse and emotional performance that really benefits from the strong keyboards employed here.

Hell or High Water has quite an epic intro, with an almost film score-esque motif to start off, but it is not long before the song becomes another foot-to-the-floor hard rock piece with frantic riffing from Eriksson and Taylor which sit nicely atop a driving drum beat. Like Taking the Blame, this is an exciting song that manages to easily ramp up the energy of the album with a real classic rock workout. After a few bluesy tracks, this song really comes along and gives the album the kick it needs to stop it from become too bogged down with similar types of songs. No Good for You is another Whitesnake-esque piece, but this time more reminiscent of the modern songs that David Coverdale wrote with Doug Aldrich for the most recent two Whitesnake albums of original material. The main riff is excellent, and is really in Aldrich's signature style, and James really lets rip throughout with some higher notes. Everything just fits together perfectly during this song, be it the melodies or the excellent bursts of lead guitar. It is one of album's best songs for these reasons and shows Inglorious really firing on all cylinders. I Got a Feeling is a bluesy piece but one that has real grit behind it's main riff and growling Hammond organ chords. It maintains the slightly faster pace of the previous couple of numbers, and even the sparser verses which are dominated by drums and bass have a tangible energy. With a title like Black Magic, it is unsurprising that the song really embodies the classic rock spirit of the early 1970s with a good chunk of the blues for good measure. The main riff is a strong one, and James' vocals are excellent once again. He is definitely the piece that completes the puzzle for for Inglorious, and I think that he elevates the band to a higher stature than the would otherwise occupy. That is not meant as a slight on the rest of the band, but I do feel that Inglorious' songwriting is less interesting than many of the other young rock bands of the past ten or so years, but James is certainly a fantastic singer and his efforts certainly help to move the band up a couple of pegs. Faraway, the album's penultimate song, is a short acoustic-led number with simple acoustic guitar chords and a mournful vocal performance. Drums and bass are added as the songs move along, but it's basis as an acoustic piece is mostly preserved. That is until the last portion of the song when it ramps up and turns into a rocker until the end. The acoustic section of the song is particularly welcome, as the album does not really posses a proper ballad and this acts as a bit of a chance of pace to add some variety. Despite opening with a deep, booming piano chord, High Class Woman is a real rocker and a great song to close out the album with. The main riff is based around a melodic guitar lead, and the slightly grungy vocal sections help the song to stand out. At it's heart however, the song is a proper rocker with a good energy and one of the album's best choruses. There is a slightly sleazy feel at the centre of the song, something which is not usually present in the band's songs, and that also helps it create it's own identity. Overall, Inglorious II is a strong follow up to the band's debut album and one that definitely ups the quality somewhat. I still feel that Inglorious are slightly overrated, but there is no denying that this is an enjoyable rock album with some genuinely excellent songs.

The album was released on 12th May 2017 via Frontiers Records. Below is the band's promotional video for I Don't Need Your Loving.

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